Eastern Shore Food Lab at
The Eastern Shore Food Lab (ESFL) will be an interdisciplinary research, teaching, and production laboratory at Washington College dedicated to studying and experimenting with sustainable food systems, using the Eastern Shore food-shed as its primary context.
By researching the resources unique to the region based on weather, climate, soil chemistry, and microbial biology—and fusing historical foodways with modern technologies—faculty, students, community members, and collaborative researchers will re-envision our food system, from how we define food to how we grow it and prepare it.
Through innovative teaching and learning, cutting edge research, and meaningful food production, the lab will address issues of food, diet, health, access, sustainability, and human and environmental relationships.
Ultimately, although the lab’s work will spring from the local, the solutions it envisions will be scalable to other food-sheds around the country and the world, and it will examine other successful models from around the world that can be adapted to the Eastern Shore food-shed.
The ESFL will work as a catalyst to change modern Western perceptions of food, proactively shaping how people perceive new food ideas and helping propel sustainable solutions that can support and incentivize local businesses. Through classes and workshops, the lab will sustainably produce nutrient-dense food based in the local foodshed, reconnecting people and the community to the foundations of their food resources and working towards a community-supported kitchen.
The first director of the ESFL, and one of the primary visionaries behind it, is Dr. Bill Schindler, chair of the Department of Anthropology and associate professor of anthropology. A behavioral science expert in primitive technologies and foodways—food production, dietary health, and cultural meanings of food—Schindler is especially interested in how the ESFL can work as a catalyst to change traditional perceptions of food and reconnect people to both their historical foodways as well as their future food resources.
Bill Schindler, the inaugural chair, is spending the coming academic year on sabbatical as a visiting professor at the School of Archaeology, University College Dublin (UCD), working on a project called “Food Evolutions” in partnership with UCD and Odaios Foods. He is conducting research and training with experts from around the world to deepen his understanding of strategies to transform ingredients such as wild foraged plants, ancient grains and offal into nutrient-dense foods.